ANSI for All: Explaining ANSI Standards
High visibility safety apparel is vital for work sites where traffic, weather conditions, lighting, or complex environmental backgrounds reduce visibility. A number of government agencies have specific standards regarding the visibility of personal protection garments to ensure maximum on-the-job safety. Chief among these organizations are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHA).
Having to adhere to multiple agencies’ standards could quickly become confusing, but fortunately both the OSHA and the FHA use industry standards created by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). To properly outfit your employees in high visibility gear, you need to understand the ANSI/ISEA 107 Standard and ANSI A10.
ANSI/ISEA 107 Criteria
The ANSI/ISEA 107 Standard outlines the type of materials used in the manufacture of high visibility personal protection equipment (PPE), the minimum area of high visibility material on the garment, and the placement of such material. Color, garment brightness, and minimum use of fluorescent and retroreflective materials are all governed by ANSI/ISEA 107, resulting in four garment performance classes to ensure visibility in all light conditions and work environments.
The ANSI A10.47 standard sets criteria for high visibility garments and clothing specifically for highway construction workers. To meet ANSI A10.47 requirements, workers may use ANSI/ISEA Class 2 garments during the day and Class 3 garments at night or in any situation that severely reduces visibility.
ANSI Garments by Class
ANSI/ISEA 107 Standard offers three performance classes—Class 1, 2 and 3—and a special class for pants—Class E. The garment class your workers require depends on environmental hazards, worker tasks, the work environment itself, and vehicle speed and behavior. Remember, for highway work high visibility clothing must be at least Class 2
Class 1 garments are suitable for a workplace that meets the flowing conditions:
- Workers can give traffic undivided attention.
- Workers are separated from traffic by an ample distance.
- The workplace background is not complex.
- Vehicles do not exceed 25 mph.
Class 1 high visibility garments may be worn by warehouse workers, workers on sidewalks, parking attendants, and those in similar occupations. As noted above Class 1 garments do not meet the FHA’s requirements for highway construction work.
Class 2 ANSI garments are appropriate PPE for the following conditions:
- Close proximity to traffic.
- Complex work backgrounds.
- Inclement weather.
- Situations where workers’ cannot give their full attention to traffic.
- Vehicles or equipment moving at speeds in excess of 25 mph.
Class 2 garments are commonly used by roadway construction crews, survey crews, and utility workers. Note the conditions above are guidelines only. Addition factors unique to the work site might make Class 3 PPE more appropriate.
Class 3 garments offer maximum visibility for workers when any of the following conditions are present:
- High traffic speeds.
- Reduced visibility due to lighting conditions, time of day, or weather.
- Pedestrian workers performing duties close to active equipment.
To qualify as Class 3, garments must allow for easy identification of the wearer as a person from a minimum distance of 1,280 feet. Clothing must allow the wearer to remain visible through a full range of body motions.
Class 3 garments offer suitable high visibility gear for flaggers, utility workers, road construction crews, surveyors, and emergency responders.
Class E is a special classification, where Class E high visibility pants create a class 3 ensemble when combined with a Class 2 or Class 3 vest. For instance, an employee may wear a Class 2 vest during the day, and add Class E pants at night to meet Class 3 requirements.
Avoid Inferior Garments—Check the Label
It’s important to remember some manufacturers offer “high visibility” clothing that does not meet ANSI standards. To be sure your workers have the correct level of visibility protection, check the garments’ label. An ANSI/ISEA-certified garment will include the specific ANSI/ISEA Standard the garment meets, as well as a pictogram displaying the garment’s performance class.
Understanding ANSI/ISEA standards helps you make the best possible choices for your work force—choices that could well save lives.